Providing care for a family member in need is an act of love and loyalty. As America population ages, it becomes more likely that many of us will be part of the caregiving experience, either as the caregiver or the one who is cared for.
As beautiful and compassionate as it is, caregiving can also take a heavy toll on you, if there is no support. Changes in the family dynamics, financial pressures, the health of your loved one and the massive amount of work involved are just a few of the stressors family caregivers face.
As the stress increases, frustration and despair take hold and burnout becomes a genuine danger.
Sometimes it is hard to recognize and understand what is going on. You and your loved one are so deeply involved in the patient/caregiver dynamics, that you can't see it for yourself. When that happens, your body speaks out, through some common symptoms, described below. When someone feels one or many of those symptoms, that's called "The Caregiver Stress."
Don't let it build up. After all, you can’t take care of someone if you don’t take care of yourself first. Ask for help.
Signs of the Caregiver Stress:
Anxiety: You get anxious to get things done, or you may feel that you don't have enough time to do everything that has to be done. Anxiety may bring constant questioning of what the future holds. You always think that your telephone is going to ring anytime, bringing you bad or undesired news.
Sleeplessness: Insomnia is usually related to anxiety. You may stay awake thinking about your long list of concerns or things to do. Your eyes are heavy, you even feel tired, but be unable to sleep. Sometimes you wake up during the night and cannot sleep again, as the thoughts of what awaits in the following days populate your mind.
Health Problems: As you struggle to take a break, your body starts to ask for help. Caregiving is taking a toll both mentally and physically. You get sick more often than you used to.
Denial: The caregiver denies the seriousness of his/her loved one's disease. Illusory solutions are adopted, like thinking that the situation will get better or everything will be 'fixed.'
Depression: Overwhelming and unavoidable feelings of sadness, helplessness or despair. Severe depression is characterized by thinking that dying would be a solution for your problems and suicidal thoughts.
Withdrawal: No desire to see friends or family. You avoid people or activities that you once enjoyed, like going to the movies, enjoying nature or going out with friends. You think that they "wouldn't understand" what you are going through.
Exhaustion: Feeling run-down, fatigated. It becomes difficult to complete daily tasks the were once usual. Burnout is common with caregivers who do not have a support net to share the caregiving work or talk about it.
Loss of concentration: It is difficult to focus on tasks at work or at home, as you keep thinking about everything that you have to do and the safety and well-being of your loved one.
Anger: You feel resentful of your loved one for needing care or angry at other family members for not helping you. Caregivers who do not talk about how they feel, keeping it all in, may show anger outbursts, unexpectedly.
Irritability: You are not the person you used to be anymore. Everything annoys you. Your moodiness triggers negative responses and actions.
Ever experienced one or many of the symptoms above? Does caregiving seem overwhelming? It is time to get help.
1) Talk to your doctor about your emotional and physical symptoms.
2) Call Home Helpers to provide respite or regular care for your loved one.
Our compassionate and highly-trained caregivers in Enfield (covering North Central CT) and East Longmeadow (Western MA) will help your loved one stay
Many people think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. However, being capable of doing it when necessary is a sign of strength. At Home Helpers Home Care we have caregivers trained to help your loved one with his or her activities of daily living, homemaking, and companionship. They are experienced and knowledgeable and will help family members to feel more confident about the safety and wellness of their loved one.